By Jonathan Smith, Managing Editor
If Kendall Massey had it his way, you would never know he was here.
That’s the mark Massey wants to leave on his new position as director of student productions, most notably on Freshman Follies and Sing Song.
“I want productions to have everything to do with the students and the people involved and the focus not to be on me,” Massy said. “That’s the mark I’d like to leave-that the students involved got the most out of it.”
After being hired only in August, Massey has had about two months to put this year’s Freshman Follies together; however, this isn’t his first Follies experience.
Massey, a 1997 graduate with a psychology degree and most of a degree in music, played guitar in his Follies act in ’92 and has participated in almost every Sing Song production since his freshman year.
He has also been involved in music through outlets other than just Follies and Sing Song, such as the singing group Reflections (now known as the Light).
“I played in country bands; I played in punk bands, rock bands, jazz groups,” Massey said. “Everything-you name it, I played it. Pretty much anything you could do on this campus, I pretty much did.”
Since graduation, Massey has been working mostly in the field of digital audio for several different companies, including one he opened himself.
“I’ve been doing a lot of producing,” Massey said. “I’ve produced 52 or 53 albums over the past five years.”
Evan Woods, freshman music education major from Fleming, Ohio, and co-chair of Follies, said Massey’s knowledge of music is a unique gift he brings to the position.
“Since he’s been a recording producer, he has a lot of knowledge about the general effects of an act-voice quality and other types of audio things,” Woods said. “I think he has a good grasp of what makes a good show.”
Massey said he applied for director of student productions in March, but this wasn’t his first time to apply for the position.
“I actually applied for this job four years ago,” Massey said. “Of course, it was a job I don’t think God had for me at the time. He had me grow as a person and as a professional.”
In April, Massey took a new job and moved his wife, Vivi, and two sons, Noah, 4, and Silas, 13 months, to Kansas City. Massey said taking the job in Kansas City was difficult because it was the first time he lived away from Abilene in 11 years.
“I didn’t think God wanted us here,” Massey said. “We went up there, and things were different, and he brought us back just in time to start this job.”
He found out he was hired as director of student productions in August and said he quickly realized that he had to put a Follies show together in just two months.
“We could have just done a regular Follies,” Massey said, but that’s not what he wanted to do. “I’m trying to make improvements in a very short amount of time.”
Massey said that he has made many of the changes he wants to make, but there is still one area he would like to address: organization.
“Trying to be organized, trying to get organized, that’s been the biggest challenge for me,” Massey said. “That’s also one of my biggest goals, to make sure everything starts running like clockwork.”
To make things run like clockwork requires time, which is something Massey said he has had to give much of for Follies. Between directing the show and producing some of the music tracks used himself, Massey said he has spent many late nights in Cullen Auditorium or his office and at least one night this week when he stayed until 4 a.m.
One of the most difficult parts of spending all that time at work has been the time spent away from his family, Massey said. The few times his wife and two sons were able to come to Follies practice at night he said made a big difference to him.
In just the short time they’ve known him, several students who have worked with Massey said they liked what they have seen of his job so far.
“He’s brilliant,” said Nathan Edgar, freshman theatre major from Abilene and Follies backstage manager. “He knows what he wants and can just go get it done.”
Kaitlyn Whitlock, freshman theatre major from Garland and co-chair of Follies, said she likes his ability to work with what they have.
“He’s very good at finding people’s talents and really trying to bring them out-really trying to help them find what they’re good at,” Whitlock said. “He hasn’t been trying to put people in a mold, and he hasn’t been trying to make Follies a cookie-cutter type thing. He’s really just been saying, ‘This is the talent we have; this is the people we have; this is what we’re going to go with.'”
She also said his nature lends well to working with people.
“I think he brings a very personable nature,” Whitlock said. “Nobody’s afraid to come up and talk to him or ask him, ‘Hey, we were thinking about doing this,’ or run ideas by him. It’s not like he’s up on this pedestal.”
Massey said he brings a unique aspect to the job in that he has directed Sing Song acts before-something few other directors of student productions have done.
For Massey, this job is all about one thing: providing opportunity.
“I want to give people opportunities,” he said. “I just feel like that’s what God wants me to do.”
One of the opportunities Massey talked about was the chance for students to perform in ways they might not be able to at other times and places on campus.
“For dancers, this is one of the only opportunities they can be a dancer,” Massey said. “You really can’t do a lot of popular music some places on campus. A lot of campuses, you can’t perform with a full band like that. The Sing Song stage in itself is a unique thing.”
Massey said that is what his job boils down to-providing those opportunities and the personal satisfaction that comes from that.
“This is not a job that has anything to do with the money or the prestige,” Massey said. “It has everything to do with the students and giving them the right experience.”
And the job is something Massey said he could see himself doing for several years.
“That’s the plan,” Massey said, “but you never know what God has.”